Suspicions arose before Avila shootings - FOX 13 News

Suspicions arose before Avila shootings

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Detectives say the Riveras not only knew their killer, they hired him more than a year earlier.

Longtime friend of the couple Georgette Diaz is in disbelief.

"They took him in. He was helping Debbie. She fully trusted him. And to have that trust end in such a horrific murder…" she says.

According to investigators, the couple began wondering if that trust had been broken. Just days before the murders, Debbie Rivera called deputies.

"There was a large quantity of jewelry that she could not account for that she believed may have been stolen from her home. And of course he was the one who would usually assist her in bringing the jewelry to the house after they would purchase merchandise," said Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee.

Despite the suspicions, investigators say, early Monday, Julian Ospina-Florez drove Debbie to the Sarasota Ritz Carlton. They picked up more jewelry for her business and headed home that afternoon. But just a half hour after returning to the million dollar mansion, deputies say, Debbie Rivera was dead.

"We believe it was planned. We believe it was absolutely planned. He came with a firearm," Sheriff Gee said.

Detectives say she was found in one of the bathrooms, shot multiple times. Her husband, Hector, had been watching the BCS championship with friends in the neighborhood, just a few doors down.

They say he came home to bring his wife some food. That's when, they say, he stumbled onto what had happened. Dr. Rivera was gunned down too, right in their driveway. And like his wife, he was shot multiple times.

"There was no question his intent was to make sure nobody survived this attack," Sheriff Gee said. "It was a very brutal killing."

At 7:53 P.M., Avila's security called 911 to report that a neighbor had heard gunshots. Then, there was another call, this time from inside the Rivera home. Deputies say it was Ospina-Florez, claiming he was attacked.

When they arrived, they say Ospina-Florez was still there. Deputies say he told them an unknown man had attacked them inside the house, and claimed he was tied him up in a bathroom. But investigators say his story doesn't add up.

For the Rivera's friends and family, none of it does.

"It's very hard to believe. I'll never accept it. How that could happen, how that man could have done that to two dear people, I'll never understand. I'll never understand why he did that," Diaz said.
 

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